It’s the most wonderful time of the year…
It’s time to pack those boxes!
Now I know we’ve talked about doing deals throughout the year, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen. We all know how life gets in the way of our plans sometimes.
Today I set out to pack a box and I decided to do most of my shopping in a store that may not pop to mind immediately when you think of shoe boxes…a craft store! Not just any craft store though, I went to Hobby Lobby, who partners with Samaritan’s Purse! I do love spending my money in places that I know give back.
I entered the store on a mission, ready to fill my box with goodies. Something Dania said in her interview has really stuck with me. It was her joy over seeing a decorated pencil. She marveled at the idea that someone took the time to take something as basic and simple as a pencil, and make it beautiful. I know that every simple gift will show the child who gets my box that someone out there loves them and cares. I grabbed a box for size reference (I had left mine at home, oops!) and threw myself in to my joyful task. I decided to shop for a girl, aged 10-14.
The first place I suggest shopping is Clearance! Hobby Lobby had three separate Clearance sections and there were so many beautiful, amazing items there! I was enamored with many of the crafting kits, but sadly they were too large to fit in my box. If you do decide to go with something in a kit, make sure everything necessary is included. It isn’t very helpful to send a ball of yarn and nothing else. I also tried to stick to very easy things. Crochet is not a skill everyone has and without knowing where a box is going, it is impossible to include directions in the correct language for the child! My biggest score in Clearance was a beautiful journal! This paper will be perfect for writing or drawing.
I love to send school supplies. An education is one of the most important gifts we can give children, and with schools supplies it opens up the child to being able to go to school! A pencil sharpener and pencils will always appear in my gift!
I spent a lot of time browsing the art aisle! I loved that these items were marked with signs declaring them “Great for Shoebox Gifts!” Ultimately I added in crayons and colored pencils. In one of the 40% off Christmas aisles I found a 24 pack of color your own puzzles and I grabbed a small booklet of intricate coloring book designs as well. The puzzles will be fun to color and allow my child to give her own gifts if she chooses!
I also grabbed a pretty canvas tote bag and a pack of fancy hair ties. They can either pull her hair back, be used as a headband, or she can wear them as bracelets around her wrist. At $4.99, this was my most expensive item, but I popped on to Hobby Lobby’s app and used a 40% off coupon!
When actually packing my box, I play a very important game of Tetris! Every item must fit perfectly with the others, with no wasted space. After all, everything must fit inside this shoebox and if there is room for an extra item, I want to take advantage of it!
Now, you can’t get everything at Hobby Lobby. I stopped by Walmart for soap, a toothbrush and a washcloth. My box also includes a box of floss and a nail file. Dania mentioned how even now, years and years after getting her box, she can walk down a soap aisle and be transported back to that memory.
The Slinky even has items packed inside of it! Nothing that could damage it, but I also don’t want that space sitting empty! Anything I can take out of the package, I do. I remove hang tags from the store so they don’t take up valuable space in the box. It really is a labor of love, packing a shoebox, and I have been known to redo it multiple times to squeeze that last inch of space out.
When your box is done, don’t forget to include your $9 to help with shipping and processing. In those moments after closing the box, I take a moment to pray for the child who will receive my box. Never underestimate the power of your prayers.
Click here for amazing ideas of what to include in your own Operation Christmas Child Box!
National Collection Week is November 12-19. If you are doing the boxes on your own or you miss your collection date for your organization, grab the OCC app! It will help you find a drop off location near you, among some other really cool features.